⏳Duration: 2-4 sessions – 2-5 hrs each
🩹Recovery: 0 days – no downtime
⭐Results: A month after the last session
💰 Cost: 500$ – 4,000$
💊 Pain: Mild
📅Lifespan: 7-8 years
🧴 Anesthetic: Numbing cream or local anesthetic cream
Scalp micropigmentation (SMP) is a new and emerging hair loss cosmetic treatment. It consists of tattooing dots on the scalp, giving the illusion of fullness on the scalp. It is a bit similar to eyebrow microblading. With the same intentions, microblading can also be done on the scalp. However, in some cases, micropigmentation can do things microblading cannot.
SMP is a non-surgical and non-medicinal approach for people who do not want to use a lifelong medicine or go through long-term treatments or surgeries. It is also a great option for people with complete baldness cases.This article will focus on these takeaways of scalp micropigmentation:
- SCALP MICROPIGMENTATION IS A COSMETIC PERMANENT MAKEUP
- SMP IS SEMI-PERMANENT
- IT CAN COVER BALD SPOTS
- IT DOES NOT HAVE AN EFFECT ON HAIR GROWTH
- SMP IS NOT COVERED BY THE INSURANCE
- IT COSTS LESS THAN MOST HAIR TREATMENTS
What Is Scalp Micropigmentation?
Scalp pigmentation, or SMP, is a non-surgical, cosmetic, and permanent superficial scalp tattoo that gives the illusion of dense hair. It can cover bald spots, or hide the hair thinning. It can also make it look as if there are hair follicles with hair in them. It is done via a tattoo gun, making little dots on the scalp.
SMP can also be used in hiding scars on the scalp from previous injuries, or donor site scars from old method hair transplants. In severe hair loss cases, SMP can give the illusion of a buzz-cut hair. However, that will mean one must dedicate themselves to shaving their head regularly to keep the look on the scalp the same.
What Is SMP Used for?
Scalp micropigmentation is used to conceal hair thinning, hair loss, and bald areas; and it is also used for scar, burns, or birthmark coverings.
These scars may be from old method hair transplant procedures (on the donor site) or surgeries that involve making an incision on the head. These scars may damage the hair follicles in a way that they cannot grow hair anymore.
How Does Micropigmentation Help with Hair Loss?
Micropigmentation does not directly help with hair loss in a way that it promotes hair growth. Rather, it helps cover or conceal the hair loss.
Scalp micro pigmentation gives the impression that the thinned or bald area is not thinned or bald. It makes it look like there are more hair follicles full of hair than there actually are.
Do Scalp Tattoos Affect Hair Growth?
No, scalp tattoo does not affect hair growth in any way. It does not promote it and it does not prevent it.
The tattoos do not harm the existing hair follicles. So, if you were to consult other methods to fight hair thinning, it does not interfere.
Scalp Micropigmentation Procedure in Detail
The whole scalp micropigmentation procedure consists of 5 steps. In order, a scalp micropigmentation process looks like this: Consultation, scalp and hair cleaning, sedation and outlining, tattooing, and cleaning the ink residue before sending you on your way.
Let’s review the steps in detail so that you can see what to expect.
Before the hair tattooing begins, there will be consultations. During consultations, your expectations and wishes will be discussed and the artist will determine how they will proceed. Also, you will be evaluated before the procedure to see if you are eligible for the procedure.
The artist might do a patch test to see if you are allergic or have any other problems beforehand. This step might occur one or a few days before tattooing.
After the consultation is through, you will be asked to clean your hair and scalp thoroughly. Your scalp needs to be clean, and as free of hair care products as possible.
The artist will disinfect the area with a solution before beginning the process.
The artist will outline the hairline. This might take some time as the artist will try to make it look natural as much as possible. Your wishes will also be taken under consideration during outlining. Then, a numbing cream or local anesthetic cream will be applied to your scalp.
30 minutes after the numbing agents are applied, the artist will start micropigmenting on your scalp. With the customized shade of pigment, the artist will start tattooing newly emerging hair follicles on your scalp.
If during the procedure you feel more discomfort or pain than you have anticipated, let your artist know so that they can add more numbing agents.
After the tattooing is done, the artist will clean the ink residue off your scalp. After the cleaning is done, your artist will give you SMP aftercare instructions. Make sure to follow them thoroughly to achieve the optimal results.
Approximately 2 weeks later, your scalp will recover enough for your next session, and you will be one more step closer to your complete results.
How Many Sessions Does It Take?
A scalp pigmentation tattoo session can take from 2 to 5 hours. The duration of the session depends on the level of hair loss and the size of the area. It also depends on your schedule.
Does Micro Scalp Pigmentation Look Real?
The scalp pigmentation tattoo does not look 100% real. However, the technician, doctor, or tattoo artist (who has an SMP certificate and is eligible to perform it) will do their best to make it look as natural as possible. It will not look like random dots on your head but rather will look like there are hair follicles with hair in them.
It is crucial to do your research well before getting your hair tattoo. Not all tattoo artists are eligible to do this cosmetic scalp tattoo.
The scalp has a different texture than the rest of your body, and the ink required for scalp tattoos for hair loss is also different from the ones that are used for regular tattoos.
Is It Effective with Gray Hair?
Yes, SMP can also be helpful with gray hair. Your service provider will adjust the color of the ink in a way that will match your hair color at the roots. So, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to the color of the hair.
Is Micropigmentation Safe?
Yes, micropigmentation is safe as long as it is done in good and experienced hands. SMP, or any other tattooing should be done in a sterile setting. Needling the skin is basically wounding it. Meaning it will be more sensitive to outside factors, such as bacteria.
That is why it is important to keep your scalp clean and follow other instructions.
Does SMP Hurt?
Depending on your tolerance, your pain levels might be 2, 3, or 4 out of 10. The needles that are being used for SMP are thinner than a normal tattoo. It might hurt, but not as much as getting any other tattoo.
Also, depending on your wishes and pain tolerance, your technician can apply a local anesthetic or numbing cream on your scalp to reduce the pain levels.
Is Micro Scalp Pigmentation Permanent?
Micro scalp pigmentation can be considered semi-permanent. The ink will always be there, but its color might start to fade. So, you might need touch-up sessions in the future. Do not worry though, because this kind of fading will start to be noticeable in roughly 7 to 8 years.
The head usually gets exposed to sunlight without proper protection. Other factors such as skin doing its normal shedding and utilization of certain hair care products (wrong usage or wrong products can be the reason) can also contribute to pigment fading. This may cause the color of the ink to fade.
Can Scalp Pigmentation Be Removed?
Yes, SMP can be removed. However, it should be thought about thoroughly. The most effective method to remove SMP is laser removal. This does not damage the hair, but it might cause them to fall out or turn grey. They will regrow, of course.
Removals can also cost more than the procedure itself. So even before considering getting scalp tattoos for hair loss, you should do your research very well and think it through.
When Do You Start Seeing Results?
You can start seeing results after the very first session. However, this may not be complete.
Depending on the artist’s own technique, you might start seeing the results only on one part of your scalp. All your sessions need to be done to be able to see a complete result.
How Much Is Micro Scalp Pigmentation?
The SMP cost varies between 400$ to 4,000$ depending on where you get it and the artist that performs it. The cost of living of the place you get your treatment and the experience of the artist or doctor will influence the price.
Below is the table where you can see the approximate costs of scalp tattoos for hair loss all around the world.
Scalp Micropigmentation – 3 sessions
500$ – 4,000$
Hairline Micropigmentation – 3 sessions
400$ – 3,200$
Scalp Microblading – 3 sessions
500$ – 2,500$
These prices are estimated from various clinics around the world. It is advised that you contact the clinic beforehand to ask for a quote.
Does the Insurance Cover SMP?
No, insurance companies do not cover SMP.
SMP is purely cosmetic, and in a sense, it is a scalp tattoo. Therefore insurance companies do not cover the procedure.
How Much Does a Micropigmentation Cost in Turkey?
Hair pigmentation in Turkey costs around 500$ – 1,400$ per session. The reason for the affordable price is that Turkey has a relatively lower cost of living. Also, exchange rates are another reason for the low prices in Turkey.
Who Are the Candidates for SMP?
Anyone who wishes to make their hair look denser or who wishes to cover scars or birthmarks can have SMP.
However, there are some conditions where some people need proper evaluation before considering SMP. Which are:
- BLEEDING DISORDERS
- HISTORY OF KELOIDS
- RECENTLY TANNED SKIN/SCALP
- SCALP PSORIASIS
- TAKING BLOOD THINNERS
- UNDERGOING CHEMO
- VIRAL INFECTIONS OR DISEASES
Who Performs SMP?
A tattoo artist, a hair clinic doctor, or anyone with completed SMP training and SMP certification can perform scalp micropigmentation.
However, it would be wise to check their previous work to see what your results might end up looking like.
Risks and Benefits of SMP
Of course, just like anything else, the risks and benefits of SMP should be considered before going through with it. SMP is semi-permanent, however, there are some lifetime changes you must adapt to. Lets review.
- No downtime: No recovery time is needed. You can go back to your daily routine right after your session.
- Lower cost: Among most hair loss treatment options, SMP is one of the “cheaper” options.
- Non–surgical and minimally invasive: There won’t be any incisions.
- Almost no pain: You might feel mild discomfort during the session, but it’ll be over as soon as you are done with your session.
- Allergic reaction: You might exhibit allergic reactions to the numbing cream or the pigment itself. That can be avoided via an initial consultation.
- Infection: This mostly occurs when unsterilized needles are used. It never happens in the hands of a certified and experienced service provider.
- Unnatural hairline or overall appearance: This might happen when someone with no knowledge of scalp tattooing does your SMP. This can be avoided easily. Ask your service provider for some before-after photos to get an idea of what your SMP might end up looking like.
- Having to shave your head regularly: SMP does not stimulate hair growth. If the bald area on your head is noticeably large, you might need to shave your head to keep the look of your SMP as natural as possible.
- Touch–up sessions: SMP can start to fade after 6-8 years. Therefore, you might need touch-up sessions to keep the appearance of the SMP fresh and natural.
- Ink migration: This happens when the artist goes deeper into the skin than they should. That is one of the reasons why it is important to choose your service provider with utmost care.
Scalp Care for Post-SMP
For the first few days after your SMP, you need to:
- Avoid getting your scalp wet,
- Avoid sweating,
- Avoid peeling your scalp,
- Avoid steam rooms, swimming pools, and steamy showers,
- Avoid exposing your scalp to the sun.
Your artist will provide you with appropriate products to help heal your scalp. Apply the instructions as they were given to you.
After 4-6 days, you can start washing your scalp provided you do not scrub.
If you are planning to shave your head, doing it after 15 days is recommended. During this time, you can also start shampooing your head.
After a month, you can continue with your life as you were before your SMP.
Can You Combine SMP with Other Treatments?
Around the time you get your SMP, you shouldn’t get other treatments simultaneously. You should wait until your hair tattoo has healed. After that, of course, you can combine SMP with other treatments.
If you are taking minoxidil, you should stop taking them for a while to let your scalp heal. Taking minoxidil right after an SMP procedure can cause pigment fading and affect your results.
Before combining other treatments with SMP, make sure to consult your service provider beforehand.
The Difference of Micropigmentation and Microblading
Can be done to people with complete baldness or mild hair thinning
Works best on people with some hair remaining on their heads
Lasts 7 to 8 years
Lasts 4 to 6 years
Consists of dots
Consists of fine lines
It can be used for covering scars, birthmarks, or surgical marks
It is not used for covering scars, birthmarks, or surgical marks
Rassman, W. R., Pak, J. P., Kim, J., & Estrin, N. F. (2015). Scalp micropigmentation: a concealer for hair and scalp deformities. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology
Park, J. H., Ho, Y. H., & Manonukul, K. (2022). Natural results of scalp micropigmentation: A review. Journal of cosmetic dermatology
Rassman, W. R., Pak, J. P., & Kim, J. (2013). Scalp micropigmentation: a useful treatment for hair loss. Facial plastic surgery clinics of North America
Dhurat, R. S., Shanshanwal, S. J. S., & Dandale, A. L. (2017). Standardization of SMP Procedure and Its Impact On Outcome. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery